“We are showered every day with gifts, but they are not meant for us to keep. Their life is in their movement, the inhale and the exhale of our shared breath. Our work and our joy is to pass along the gift and to trust that what we put out into the universe will always come back.” - Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
This morning, I came across this quote in one of the many books I’m working my way through this weekend during my own version of social distancing on the family farm compound.
Our work is to trust that we put out into the universe will always come back. That line stuck with me for the rest of the day as I felt my emotions oscillating between fear and trust during this very uncertain time.
I believe we can choose how we react to any given situation.
For myself, I can choose to respond to my own fear by constricting. Today, I noticed I was thinking only of myself and my own current situation. I started seeing scarcity all around me – not enough food, not enough money, not enough masks, not enough cat food, not enough toilet paper. Not enough time. This mindset is everywhere right now and it’s easy to slip into. I felt myself easily getting caught in a loop of more information, more fear, more information, more fear. The outside voices got louder and louder. My world got smaller and smaller. My chest constricted.
I can also choose to respond to my own fear by expanding. Today, when I chose to accept and welcome the fear, I started to feel more open. I stopped thinking only of myself and my family and friends. I started thinking about kids who aren’t able to take advantage of free meals at school. I started thinking about what it must feel like to be an undocumented immigrant right now. I started thinking of the already-isolated elderly in nursing homes who can’t have visitors. I started seeing abundance instead of scarcity. There are so many opportunities for connection! Maybe we should start a community garden so people can grow their own food if there’s a recession. Or even if there isn’t. I reached out to friends and family. I started noticing my own quiet sense of peace and calm within, drowning out the outside voices. I started trusting that what I put out into the universe will come back to me. My world got bigger and bigger. My chest opened.
This is some serious emotional work. It’s challenging to welcome fear! There are some amazing teachers out there to learn from, and one of my favorite is Tara Brach. She teaches a simple technique called RAIN:
RAIN: A Practice of Radical Compassion
The acronym RAIN is an easy-to-remember tool for bringing mindfulness and compassion to emotional difficulty.
Recognize what is going on; Allow the experience to be there, just as it is; Investigate with interest and care; Nurture with self-compassion.
Click here for more information and a 20-minute guided meditation. Try it out!
Part of the way I’m nurturing with self-compassion is through radical self-care. Here’s my self-care protocol for this weekend. I commit to:
Limiting social media and news intake to once per day
Walking every day for at least 20 minutes
Calling friends and family to see how they are and talk out all of the worries! Calling, not talking. Hearing the voices of loved ones is so much better than reading their words on a screen.
Reading, writing, resting. Repeat!
Cooking delicious food for myself and your family.
Relying on herbal medicine for my mental and physical health – I doubled my intake of herbs that help me deal with stress and anxiety.
Listening to music. My favorite song right now is “Resilient” by Rising Appalachia.
Carrying small rocks in my pockets for a grounding, comforting presence
Finding a mantra that helps me feel better. I have a whole list of mantras through an online class I’m taking right now, and one that has come in handy this week is – I have everything I need. I have everything I need. I have everything I need.
Another mantra I’m practicing right now is “Progress, not perfection.” I will continue to oscillate between fear and trust. The goal isn’t to be perfect at mindfulness or dealing with emotional difficulty. The goal is progress, not perfection. I will keep practicing RAIN, opening instead of closing, and riding the ups and downs of any emotional state that comes up. Because I really do believe that what I put out into the universe will come back, and I choose to live from a place of abundance, not scarcity. Acceptance, not resistance. Trust, not fear.
The quiet overtakes me in the early morning darkness. Endless questions fade out as the faint, waking crow of the rooster fades in: Give in to the stillness and I will reward you with trumpeting praise.